Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hasbro Releases Hillary Clinton Weeble Toy!

In honor of both the nomination of the first major-party female presidential candidate to be nominated, and in simultaneous commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Weeble toy, Hasbro is proudly releasing a commemorative collectors' edition of the Hillary Clinton Weeble, according to a press statement made late this afternoon.

Brian Goldner, President and CEO of Hasbro, stood proudly beside President of Hasbro Brands John Frascotti as the new Weeble Toy was presented to the press.

"We thought it was both appropriate and profound," said Brian Goldner. "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down, as the old commercials used to say. And that's just like Hillary. You can knock her down and knock her down, but she always bobs right back up again!"

"Plus, if you're of a conservative mindset, you can just keep hitting her," added Frascotti.

"The toy, you mean," Goldner corrected.

"Yeah, the toy," said Frascotti.

Hasbro first released the egg-shaped Weeble Toy on July 23, 2971. It was marketed under their "Romper Room" brand. Because the "egg" is weighted on the bottom, the toy always pops back up when knocked over, and wobbles back and forth afterward. Weeble People have ranged from generic men and women to animals and celebrities of all sorts, and have delighted generations of children.

Hasbro wanted to do the release on the 45th anniversary of the toy, but had to wait for Hillary to officially accept her party's nomination first.

"It's a remarkable moment," said Goldner. "Chelsea probably played with Weeble toys when she was a kid, and now her mother is one!"

"She's also a history making presidential candidate," Frascotti pointed out.

"Yeah, that too," said Goldner.

When asked whether Hasbro was considering releasing a version of a classic children's toy, John Frascotti didn't hesitate in his answer.

"Silly Putty," he told reporters. "Without a doubt, Donald Trump is definitely Silly Putty."

"We'll get back to you about that," interrupted Goldner.



Monday, July 25, 2016

Julian Assange Sinks To New Low

Well, he's done it again. Julian Assange, the master of smoke and mirrors, has put up online the email that he claims, through Twitter, is the smoking gun that will get Hillary Clinton arrested. This latest smear campaign against Lady Titanium comes through a website which dares to call itself Speaking as a freethinker, I don't appreciate this kind of hack journalism giving the non-religious community a bad name, nor do I like it associating conspiracy theory crackpot nonsense with the intellectual nobility which is skepticism of religion.

You can read the entire claim here. But I'll quote from the article anyway.

At issue is an email thread, beginning with a note from Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, Jake sullivan, which tellingly states:

“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.”

To which an apparently impatient Hillary replies:

“If they can’t, turn it into nonpaper w no identifying headline and send nonsecure.”

What she’s requesting from Sullivan is that he strip sensitive information of anything marking it as sensitive so it can be sent through without following security protocols. Clinton, in other words, blatantly asked Sullivan to break the law — because she apparently didn’t want to wait.

Well, nice try. When I read the article, I noticed right away that the e-mail thread had been cut off in the screen shot, leaving previous information below the bottom border invisible. Now, why would Assange deny us the ability to read the message in context, I wondered? So, I went to Wikileaks to read the entire email in its context. You can do the same thing by clicking here. Here's what I found. For clarity, I've put the messages in chronological order scrolling down. (They were not ordered that way on Wikileaks.)

From: Hillary Clinton 
To: Jake Sullivan 
Date: 2011-06-16 01:21 
Subject: UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05787519 Date: 01/07/2016 



From: Spence, Matthew J. [mailto: B6 
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 04L PM 
To: Sullivan, Jacob 3 
Subject: B5  



From: Sullivan, Jacob 3 [] 
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 05:51 PM  
To: H 
Subject: Fw: B5  

You'll get tps this eve. They're coming together. 


From: H [] 
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 07:52 AM  
To: Sullivan, Jacob J 
Subject: Re: B5 

I didn't get the TPs yet.


From: Sullivan, Jacob J 
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 08:00 AM 
To: ''  
Subject: Re: B5  

?!!! Checking


From: Sullivan, Jacob J [] 
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 08:17 AM 
To: H 
Subject: Re: B5   

They say they've had issues sending secure fax. They're working on it.


From: H  
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 8:21 AM 
To: 'sullivanjj@'  
Subject: Re B5   

If they can't, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.

Is this a smoking gun? No! Because as the original email thread clearly shows, the issue is an unclassified State Department case file. And not only that, merely the talking points regarding it. TP's, in case you don't know, are Talking Points, and are generally the pre-scripted soundbytes regarding any issue which are fed to the attention-deficit media.

Hillary complains she hasn't gotten the talking points yet. Now, you can't get much more non-classified material than talking points which are meant for the media anyway. But any fax sent to the Secretary of State is automatically classified because it's being sent over wire, which can be tapped. So when the fax fails, Hillary instructs Jacob Sullivan to send it by email without heading. Why not? It's meant for the newspapers anyway, right?

So why, for the love of Zeus, does Assange tweet this obvious disproof of his own argument?!

Because he knows you, the gullible public, won't bother to double-check his work! By claiming that a certain email proves Hillary's guilt, and then citing it, it appears at first glance to be proof of a Hillary Clinton lie. But if one actually follows up - something he knows that almost nobody will do - it's easy to see that he's making a claim on an email thread that actually says the exact opposite!

It's unethical, underhanded, and twisted, but admittedly genius!

It's no secret that Assange wants to destroy Hillary Clinton. The fact that he's helping to elect Donald Trump doesn't seem to bother him in the least. But then, living in exile inside an embassy in London, he doesn't have to feel the immediate consequences of a Trump presidency. Hell, Trump might even pardon him!

I've lost all respect for Julian Assange. He is no longer some knight in shining armor defending the people's right to know, because now he is deliberately and maliciously using his fame and power to spread lies of his own engineering.

If Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to step down, so should Julian Assange. He should hand Wikileaks over to somebody else, and then wait out his remaining years in his safe-house inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to fucking die. His crime was far worse by hundreds of orders of magnitude.



DNC Emails Prove Nothing

So, there's another email scandal, and this time it involves the DNC. Some 20,000 emails were hacked out of DNC servers and then leaked to Wikileaks. The emails appear to show that the DNC preferred Hillary to Bernie, and wanted to help Hillary win.

Is this at all news? No. It simply shows what we already knew all along. The DNC had its clear favorite, and wanted to help her. But in the end, they had very little power to actually do anything, and did next to nothing they talked about in their emails anyway.

So the correct interpretation is, no harm, no foul. This certainly does not prove the primary was "rigged," and only a wishful-thinking fool would say so.

But that's not how people see it. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who called Sanders' campaign manager an asshole in one of the emails, has stepped down, effective when the convention she worked so damned hard to pull together is over. Even that's not enough.

People just don't do the fucking research. The Wikileaks emails are searchable by anybody, but most people just take the news media's word for it regarding what it was the emails actually said.

Take as an example the most damning of the emails, sent by Brad Marshall, the CFO of the DNC, to Louis Miranda, the national communications director for the DNC, Amy Dacey, the CEO, and Mark Paustenbach, the deputy communications director.

"It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."

In a follow-up that showcased Marshall's hideous lack of command over the English language, he wrote, "It's these Jesus thing."

But the only reaction this email got in response was one simple reply from Amy Dacy, who replied,


And that was it. The email thread dies there. Nobody followed up on Marshall's ham-handed idea. Nobody took it seriously. He was just an accountant, and the bigwigs who ran the show knew it. So Marshall's suggestion was brutally and deservedly ignored.

This is a scandal?

And let's understand, even though the DNC didn't use this attack, you can bet the Republicans would!

It's no secret that Julian Assange wants to undermine Hillary Clinton any way he can. He must be giddy with glee that he's managed to hoodwink the masses into hating Hillary - again! He's put out a load of nothing, and people are buying it! Really and truly buying it! Damn!

But if the FBI and the DNC are right, Assange worked with Putin and the Russians to do it, and this is not the act of a crusader for openness in government. This is the deliberate act of a saboteur who is letting his irrational hatred of one woman give Donald Trump the fighting chance he so richly does not deserve. And he did this knowing he was helping establish a Trump-Putin link that could establish a new rule of fascism from both the Kremlin and the White House.

Fuck that guy! He's lost all moral high ground, in my book.

Hillary won because more democrats voted for her. And once again, a supposed scandal of Hillary's proves to be without merit, and without substance.

I'm willing to lay it on the line here. Hillary may be the best damn political candidate I've ever seen, except possibly for Barack Obama.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get her elected!



Thursday, July 21, 2016

John Kasich Dedicates New Insane Asylum: Quicken Loans Arena

In a move that Ohio insiders saw coming for days, Ohio Governor John Kasich has officially designated Quicken Loans Arena as the new Cuyahoga County Municipal Asylum for the Mentally Insane, and dedicated it in a press release just outside the parking lot.

"All the crazy people are here anyway," he told reporters. "Saves us all a lot of time and effort."

UNICEF and other relief agencies are rushing to get needed mental health professionals on site as quickly as possible. In an effort to free up needed funds, President Obama has declared Quicken Loans Arena a federal disaster area.

"We have to work quickly to contain the conflagration before it spreads to the surrounding communities," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

But even with Republican and Democrat leaders working hand-in-hand to contain the insanity outbreak, it seems to be spreading, with Republicans booing off the stage the one person who showed any sign of mental health, Senator Ted Cruz, who refused to endorse Trump.

"Think about that," said NeverTrump leader Charlie Sykes. "Ted Cruz, of all people, the sane one!"

This tragedy comes at a location only ten minutes away from where Tamir Rice was gunned down - an event that the community is still reeling from. Experts estimate the damage inflicted by the Quicken Loans Arena disaster could tally in the trillions of dollars, unless it is stopped quickly.



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Did Hillary Really Call Blacks "Superpredators?"

Did Hillary Clinton really once call black kids "superpredators?"

In a word, no. She did use that term, however. And she used it specifically in application to gangs.

The year was 1996, the place was Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Hillary was campaigning for her husband's reelection, and was defending the Crime Bill - something we who lived through that era all regret supporting (and yes, we pretty much all did). The term "superpredators" was a newly minted term, and nobody had yet considered how it might be misunderstood or misused. But then Hillary used it, and it instantly gained more weight and notoriety. Republicans used the word, well, liberally. But when an actual liberal spoke it, well, then it was obviously racist. Anything to dislodge the black vote away from the left.

Fast forward twenty years later to 2016. Hillary's comment has been reduced to a ten-second sound byte, misused and taken out of context by everybody. Does this mean that Hillary singled out black youth as predatory? Was this therefore a racist statement?

The answer is flatly no. Although Hillary has said she regretted using that term years ago, she was talking not about race, but about gangs - those organized criminals who peddle drugs and violently protect their territorial franchises. Are they often comprised of black kids? Yes, but then as now, sometimes the kids are white, Asian, or Latino. The phrase "superpredators" might have had an explicitly racist overtone to Republican ears, but street gangs can be equal opportunity employers, too! They often were in 1996, and they still are today!

We ought not let the prevalence of gang youth being black trick us into thinking a statement about gangs is a statement about black people. That's the stereotype, but it's wrong.

Note how Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks makes this very point in this video, and then completely abandons it for racial generalization again! Come on, dude!

It's an easy mistake to make, even for smart people. We tend not to recognize that we are all the same race. It goes against our tribal instincts.

If you want to see the entire context of Hillary's 1996 speech, you can watch it for yourself on C-SPAN's archive here and see that she was talking gangs, not blacks. Compare it to the twelve-second clip which you can find on YouTube here: But just to break it down a bit more (and because a few computer users out there don't follow links), let me just write out the important part of the transcript:

"...but we also have to have an organized effort against gangs, just as in a previous generation we had an organized effort against the mob. We need to take these people on, they are often connected to big drug cartels, they are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called 'superpredators,' no conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way but first we have to bring them to heel, and the president has asked the FBI to launch a very concerted effort against gangs everywhere."

So that's it. Gangs. Gangs that include groups like Crips and Bloods, but which also include groups like the Latin Kings, or white Neo-Nazis. In fact, American History X, starring Avery Brooks and Edward Norton, Jr., was released in 1998, only two years after Hillary made her 'superpredators' remark. Art follows life in film long after the phenomenon upon which the plot is based. That means that Neo-Nazi youth gangs were well known to exist in 1996 and even long before that. When Hillary said, 'superpredators,' she was including the white Neo-Nazis who were/are also selling drugs and fighting turf wars in inner city streets!

"Superpredators" was not about just black kids. It was about organized and avowed miscreants of every hue. Mostly black in some areas, yes, and according to popular cliche and Republican myth, that's all. But by no means limited to such. We do society a disservice by forgetting Latin and Nazi gangs.

When some people accuse Hillary of calling black kids "superpredators," and thinking that this would cost her the "black vote," they are insulting the intelligence of black Americans, thinking them too stupid to see through your shallow argument. But here's something that will blast your little, racist world apart: black people are not stupid! They are smart enough to evaluate Hillary's 20-year-old statement on its own merit, and can figure out for themselves how she singled out a kind of organization rather than a kind of ethnicity.

This is why this particular accusation did not result in Hillary losing black voters. It wasn't because they were either blind or stupid.

It's because her accusers are.



Monday, July 18, 2016

The Suicide Of Vincent Foster

The latest meme trend against Hillary on Facebook is that a curious number of deaths mysteriously appear around the former First Lady every time the death in question was about to testify against her. Now, that's an odd accusation, because plenty of people with far more damning evidence have testified against her and emerged quite alive. That goes for Bill, too. So why would Hillary accrue a pile of bodies unnecessarily?

In a previous blog post, I delved into the recent death of former United Nations General Assembly President John Ashe. Some had claimed that Ashe's death was conveniently timed to thwart a testimony he was about to give against the Clintons. But his death turned out to not only be merely a freak accident, it had no connection to Hillary whatsoever, and barely even had a connection to her husband Bill. So, from my perspective, the accusation that Hillary is amassing a death count is batting 0 for 1 already. But actually, it's batting 0 for 2, because I previously investigated the suicide of Vincent Foster as well. No, not on this blog. It was many, many years ago.

Back then, I was a much younger man, a newly minted former Christian, and a young Republican. I had no love for the First Lady, or her Husband, but I knew that I had to at least treat the office of the President of the United States with respect (an attitude I find quite lacking in today's politics). I didn't have the Internet or Google to help me, but I was pretty mean with the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, and I was the one who taught my high school librarian how to use the microfiche machine. I concluded, just like everyone else on the political Right did, that Foster did, in fact, commit suicide. It was the right conclusion.

Of great help to me at the time was a book by James B. Stewart called Blood Sport: The President and His Adversaries, which gave a detailed account of Vince Foster's background, his relationship with Hillary, and his subsequent suicide.

Hillary knew Vince Foster from her time at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, which she worked for from 1977 until her husband ran for President in 1992. She became the first female full partner of the firm. So when Bill and Hillary came to the White House, Foster came with them, and was named Deputy White House Counsel.

His tenure was a rocky one. Almost immediately the White House came under legal fire. An investigation was launched by Congress into the Whitewater scandal. Two nominees for Attorney General, Zoe Bard and Kimba Wood, were both shot down during their confirmation hearings due to revelations that both had employed illegal immigrants as nannies. Eventually, they confirmed Janet Reno, but having the top-tier of their legal team installed didn't smooth things over. Soon the Travelgate scandal broke, and it began to bog down the Clintons even more.

Witnesses to what happened leading up to Vincent Foster's suicide confirm that Hillary berated her former coworker at the Rose Law Firm mercilessly. In a meeting which took place about a week before he killed himself, she disagreed with a legal objection he made, and browbeat him fiercely in front of his coworkers, saying that he hadn't vetted their nominees properly, that he'd failed her, and that he wasn't protecting herself or her husband adequately.

With all the pressures that any young administration faces, the occasional outburst is understandable, and it's surprising they don't happen more often. But when Hillary, who had worked with and stood by Foster for so many years, tore him down in front of everyone, it cut him deeply in a way Hillary, who by her nature was overly perfectionist, was perhaps unaware of. Foster was already known to have a depressive personality, but those around him say that this tongue-lashing Hillary had given him was the last straw. On Tuesday, July 13, 1993, the night following that meeting, Vincent was having dinner with his wife Lisa, and broke down crying. He said that he was considering resigning.

The following weekend, the Fosters joined their friends, Michael Cardoza and Webster Hubbell and their wives for swimming and tennis. Vincent loved tennis, but everyone was concerned about his behavior that day, because he said he didn't feel like playing - something very much not like him. He merely sat away from everyone in a corner, apparently pretending to read a book, and staring off into space for long periods of time. The following Monday, Foster called his therapist, expressing he was having suicidal thoughts.

Then, the tragedy finally happened. Vincent showed up at the White House for work on the Tuesday morning of July 20th, looking even more sullen than usual. His briefcase probably contained the .38 caliber Smith & Wesson he would later kill himself with. He spent the morning drafting what was probably the outline notes for either his resignation or a suicide letter. Then he tore those notes up. The fragments would later be found by the FBI. Vincent left his office, ostensibly to go to lunch. He was seen by White House security cameras leaving the parking lot at 1:10 p.m.

He would never return. His body was found by police at 8:30 p.m. that evening in Fort Marcy Park, Virginia, just outside of D.C.

Numerous books have been written delving into the subject matter surrounding Vince Foster's death, but here's the highlights of what we know for certain. (And some of the things I list here I am doing from memory from my earlier investigation 20 years ago, but which I am quite confident I remembered correctly. You seldom forget things when they involve blood.)

1.) Six official investigations examined the evidence surrounding his death. All concluded that his death was, in fact, a suicide. One investigation was by the FBI, and another was led by independent investigator Robert Fiske, and another one by an independent investigator named Kenneth Starr, a Republican. He had no reason to hide anything that might damage a political opponent. The other investigations were by state and local police.
2.) The "second bullet wound" hypothesis is a myth. Foster shot himself under the chin with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. The "kickback" created a second hole in his neck which was mistaken by one medical examiner as a small-caliber bullet hole. But this was shown not to be the case. No second exit wound existed. Kenneth Starr was satisfied with the coroner's explanation of this. His lead investigator, a man named Miguel Rodriguez, felt that this deserved further inquiry, citing the earlier medical reports, but Starr, knowing full well it was a wild goose chase, overruled him. Rodriguez, not having all the facts, resigned in protest. People still point to the inconclusive "evidence" Rodriguez cited as proof of a conspiracy theory.
3.) Vincent's body lacked a large pool of blood around it because he shot himself on a hillside with his head facing the top of the hill. The blood in his head drained out, but the remaining blood remained inside his body, downhill from the exit wound. This is why there was only a small blood stain, as one would reasonably expect.
4.) The first police officer to see the body insisted there was no gun in either hand. This was because the gun was found beneath the right hand.
5.) Foster was not about to testify to anybody. No testimony was slated to be given by him to any investigative committee following the date of his death.
6.) No suicide note or letter of resignation was ever found, but one would not be absolutely necessary for a death to be an actual suicide.

Now, that's what we know based on the facts. I will now engage in wild speculation, and I must emphasize that this is only my own hypothetical imagination. Take it or leave it.

1.) I believe Vincent Foster did, in fact, write a suicide note.
2.) I believe he sent that suicide note to Hillary Clinton.
3.) Some have speculated that Vincent Foster and Hillary Clinton had an affair. I don't believe they did. But I do think that Vincent Foster was in love with Hillary, and never told her. This is why her disapproval and harsh scolding wounded him so deeply, and drove him to suicide.
4.) I believe he confessed his love for her in his suicide note.
5.) I believe Hillary quite understandably burned it.
6.) I believe Foster's suicide note asked her to.

Now all that is just hypothetical. None of it should be taken all that seriously. But when I ask myself the question of why there was no suicide note, that particular hypothesis makes more sense than any other. There must have been a suicide note, because the draft of one was found torn up, but the note itself was never found. Why? The likeliest explanation for this is that Hillary must have received the suicide note. After all, she was his lawyer, and former coworker. If he were to send it to anybody, it would be her. Then, for some reason deeply personal to her and/or to Bill, she destroyed it. This seems the likeliest explanation for why it was never found. What was that deeply personal reason? Not Whitewater, although that bothered Vincent. Not Travelgate, although that bothered Foster even more. No, it must have been something even bigger, and more damaging. I highly doubt that there's anything in Hillary's public life that hasn't been raked over a hundred times or more, so that leaves only her private life. Vincent must have had a crush, but Hillary was too intimidating a woman for him to act on it. He followed Hillary like a little puppy dog from the Rose Law Firm for more reasons than merely the opportunity to work in the White House.

Am I right? Who knows? But it makes a kind of sense to me. But even if I'm wrong, Foster's death is still definitely a suicide. If there was a suicide note that didn't express love, it expressed something just as damaging. And if there was no suicide note, well then the official story line holds, no alterations needed.

That's my conspiracy theory. But unlike any true conspiracy theorist, you don't have to accept it. Am I excusing Hillary of murder by accusing her of hiding evidence from the FBI? Yes. But if I'm right, and Foster was in love with her, his suicide note would have begged Hillary to destroy it. After all, he couldn't face death knowing that his words might damage her.

What you do have to accept, because it's a goddamned fact, is that Foster committed suicide, and he was not about to testify against anybody. That much, at least, is certain.



Hillary's Poll Numbers Too Low? It's YOUR Fault, Bernie-Bailers!

Not all Bernie supporters went trashing Hillary during this contentious primary season. But a significant minority of them did. These are, by in large, the same minority who are now flocking to Jill Stein, a woman whom they thoroughly ignored or outright rejected in favor of Bernie. And now that Bernie wants them to support Hillary instead of Jill, they flock to Jill anyway, essentially saying to him, by deeds rather than words, "Fuck you, you old, coot! We don't care what you have to say anymore!"

I know democracy dictates such people's vote counts just as much as mine, but damn! Even Tinder dates are less back-stabbing and fickle!

You see, it's people such as these who have deliberately trashed Hillary's character. They claimed to do it out of love for Bernie, but in truth, they did it out of a hatred for anything that got in Bernie's way, and that meant Hillary became Satan incarnate to them. They regurgitated anything from Faux News they could get their hands on, and because the attacks came from the Left, many people bought them as true, in spite of most of them having been debunked long, long ago.

First they destroyed Hillary's poll numbers, then they promoted Bernie by saying, "Bernie is the better candidate because he polls better than Hillary!" Which is a little bit like pissing on someone else's sandwich, and then saying, "My sandwich is better because it has less urine on it!" Well, technically, that's true. But when you're the one responsible for the urine-soaked hoagie, isn't it a little bit unfair that you fault your own urine? In like manner, it's a strange sort of logic that the people who made the argument about Hillary's bad poll numbers were the ones responsible for them in the first place!

Don't believe me? Consider the following graph, provided by Real Clear Politics:

Starting in November of 2014, Hillary polled pretty well, with approval numbers in the 51% to 52% range. The e-mail story broke regarding Hillary back in 2013 when the Romanian hacker "Guccifer" broke into Stanley Blumenthal's email account, and showed that emails were sent to Hillary on an address which was clearly private. The story began to pick up steam in January of 2015, but this did not significantly hurt Hillary's poll numbers. Whitewater, Vincent Foster's suicide, Bill's philandering, they were all just as well known then as now, and still Hillary's positives were at 52%. Then The New York Times broke a new twist on the email story on March 3, 2015.

But no! That's NOT when her poll numbers dipped! The numbers did not really begin to decline until weeks later, proving that it was not the email story dragging her down. It was when she officially declared her candidacy for president that her poll numbers dipped, proving that the real reason for Hillary's disapproval among certain voters was certain people, primarily men, hating "uppity women."

Hillary's positive and negative numbers remained tied at 45% until roughly July of 2015. That's right about when Bernie Sanders began picking up steam. And when the vocal minority of Bernie supporters began trashing Hillary any way they could. At the time, it wasn't that they really hated Hillary. She was just in the way.

Hillary, to her fault, gave them plenty of motivation to begin hating her. When asked about the Keystone Pipeline, Hillary gave a non-committal answer. She was later forced to come out against it through the backlash. When pressed about her past record opposing gay marriage, she again hedged before flip-flopping in favor of it. When asked about the Trans Pacific Partnership, she again gave nuanced answers before coming out against it based on a technicality which satisfied no one.

But those actions of Hillary's did not come anywhere close to justifying the kind of vitriolic hate-filled rhetoric which came at her from the most fervent on the Left - many of whom were political newbies. They got very, VERY fired up, and very VERY anti-Hillary. All out of love for Bernie, or so they said.

And now they've completely abandoned Bernie for Jill. Bernie at least had a legitimate shot, because only two-party candidates can win in our polarized system. But Jill is nothing but a spoiler, and everyone knows it. "Lady Nader" (as I call Jill) is Trump's best shot at victory.

Makes you wonder what the Bernie-Bailers are really committed to, doesn't it?

So now it's over, and it's time for everyone on the Left to go back to loving Hillary at least as much as they did back in February of 2015, when she was approved of by 52%, and hated by only 42% (all Republicans). But it's not happening, in large part due to the continued trashing of Hillary from the Left. In fact, so bad has this trashing been that I've been forced to continue my pro-Hillary investigative posts, just because people keep coming up with more and more bizarre accusations dragged out of imagined slights in Hillary's past - all of them taken from Right-wing news sources.

Well, I can't abide that sort of nonsense anymore, and I hope you can't, either.

You people who trashed Hillary from the Left are the same people who gave her a 52% approval rating to begin with. So now get your asses back up there! You tore her down, so you rebuild her!

If you make a mess, you clean it up! And at the risk of sounding like your mother, I'm sick and damned tired of cleaning up your messes for you!



Monday, July 11, 2016

The Phrase "All Lives Matter" Is Racist, Too.

Well, Rudy Giuliani went and did it. He said that the phrase "black lives matter" is inherently racist, thus sparking a firestorm of controversy from both sides of the political aisle.

This being the place where sacred cows get kicked over, let me begin by acknowledging that he's a little bit right. "Black lives matter" is a phrase that targets a specific ethnicity (I won't use the word "race") for special treatment. But the reason that's necessary is it has to counteract the oppression that black people feel every day. It's literally fighting fire with fire. A phrase clearly supporting Afro-centric racism is used to highlight and counter the severity of contra-Afro racism. Or even Euro-centric racism. That's why when the counter argument, "But all lives matter!" is made, it amounts to white Americans burying their heads in the sand like an ostrich. Of course all lives matter. That goes without saying.

Which is why you don't say it!

We don't need reminding that all lives matter. We need reminding that black lives matter. Because right now, let's be honest, they don't. Actions speak louder than our words, and when a person's words say "all lives matter" while his actions say, "fuck black people if the cops shoot them," then such a person is a racist wearing an egalitarian disguise, whether consciously or unconsciously.

The phrase, "all lives matter" is racist, too.

And cue the soundtrack to "Avenue Q" where the puppets sing, "Everyone's a little bit racist."

Look, I don't have a good solution as to how to keep cops from shooting innocent people (although the iPhone is starting to do one hell of a job with that!). And maybe fighting fire with fire means we all get burned. But I do know that we will never achieve a post-racial America until we stop pretending that "black" or "white" is somehow a racial label.

You want an accurate designation of race? Try human!

Canine (dog) vs. feline (cat), that's a difference in race.
Bovine (cow) vs. Equine (horse), that's a difference in race.
Sus (pig) vs. Gallus (chicken), that's a difference in race.

But a human whose ancestors hailed from Africa is the same race as one whose ancestors hailed from Europe. Or Asia. Or some mixture of any number of geographies. Because we can all interbreed, and often do.

So fuck racism, fuck the phrase "all lives matter," but most importantly, fuck the word "race!" It's time we stopped using that word.

It's lower than the word "nigger."

(Except black people shouldn't use it in rap music, either. See? Even I can be a little bit racist, too!)



The TPP And NAFTA. Trump Says They Are Bad. He's Wrong.

I love economics. It's an obsession of mine. So today, I want to talk about free trade. Specifically, N.A.F.T.A. and the T.P.P., and why Trump is wrong on both.

Okay, trade tariffs and free trade agreements are complex subjects, so I'm going to try to condense Macroeconomics 101 into a nice, compact blog post so that people can at least try to follow how they work. You might be under the impression that N.A.F.T.A. and the T.P.P. are bad deals which cost America jobs, but think again.

Let's say you have two countries, Latveria, and Symkaria (borrowed from the Marvel Universe). Latveria is ruled by Dr. Victor Von Doom, and Symkaria is ruled by Silba Sablinova (a.k.a. Silver Sable). Dr. Doom is concerned that his country is importing more goods from Symkaria than it is exporting to them. Something must be done about this, he reasons. His country is losing money to its Eastern neighbor. So he decides to enact a tariff of 5% on all imported goods from Symkaria.

A tariff, for those who don't know, is a tax on an import. If an import is worth, say, $100, a 5% tariff would mean that any product imported to Latveria would carry an additional cost of $5. That means that consumers in Latveria must pay $105 for Symkarian products, because Symkaria must raise its price to $105 to offset the tariff, which discourages Latverians from buying a more expensive product. But if they do, the government of Latveria pockets the extra $5 from Symkaria, which it can use for roads, bridges, clean water, sewage systems, waste disposal and recycling, etc. etc. This is a win for Latveria, right?

Ah, not so. Because when Silver Sable gets wind of this, she decides to counter Doom's tariff with one of her own. Now, all imports from Latveria will also have a 5% tariff, and this evens the scales.

"No one defies Doom!" cries Victor, who then enacts a 10% tariff on Symkaria.

But Silver Sable knows that two can play at this game. She responds with a 10% tariff of her own.

And now we have a tariff war. Each country will raise its tariffs until trade between the nations has virtually stopped. The tariffs are now essentially worthless, because the tariff only applies to imports, and with the countries not importing each other's goods due to the high disincentives, neither government makes any money. Also, both countries now have a lower G.D.P. because their businesses have fewer customers, their trade volume is lessened, and so their hiring drops. With a smaller customer base, the jobs that remain must be fewer in number because demand for the products is smaller.

One of the key factors that led to the Great Depression was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which caused other nations to raise tariffs of their own. Soon, trade between many nations all but halted, and the Great Depression would continue until World War II forced the Allied nations to drop their tariffs for the sake of importing military goods.

But suppose the two countries take a different approach. Victor Von Doom invites Silver to dine at his castle, and says, "Let's strike a bargain. Both our countries do better with lower tariffs, so let's agree to eliminate them. My country may do a little poorer in the short term, but that will eventually even itself out in the free market."

Silba likes this idea, and says, "Agreed." And so they form the Marvel Universe Fictional Adjunct State Trade Agreement, or M.U.F.A.S.T.A. Tariffs are eliminated, and goods between the two nations increase. Trade expands, and hiring goes up. Everyone wins, right?

Well, no. When you lower trade tariffs, unskilled jobs can more easily flow to the weaker economy because of lower wages. Companies can send low-skilled jobs to Symkaria, have the employees build parts there by hand more cheaply, and then ship them back to Latveria for final assembly. Because of the lack of any tariffs, the parts shipped, even though they are WIP (work in process) count as exports, and are not levied with any tariff penalty (which they would be if a tariff were in place). In some cases, the products might be entirely built in Symkaria outright.

Well some of Doom's constituents aren't happy about this. "Our jobs are going to that other fictional city-state, and we don't like it! The big corporations who are in league with Castle Doom are willing to ship our jobs over there because their wages are lower! And then sell their goods to us at cheaper prices as a result!"

Yes, that would be bad for a little while. But wages in Symkaria would begin to increase until they reached a point of equilibrium with Latveria. The trade imbalance that temporarily exists between Latveria and its neighbor eventually goes away, because Latverians are able to buy cheaper goods, giving them a higher standard of living which results in more entrepreneurs. Eventually, both nations prosper more with free trade than they would have otherwise.

But this is a hard sell for Dr. Doom, politically. He's getting challenged in the next election by M.O.D.A.R.K., who is promising to "Level the playing field" with Symkaria. He's also concerned about illegal immigration from Wakanda. M.O.D.A.R.K. says, "They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some of them, I assume, are good people." He proposes protectionist tariffs be replaced, and that M.U.F.A.S.T.A. be thrown out.

This is essentially the same sort of argument we're hearing from Trump today. But Protectionism doesn't work for an economy. It never has. All it does is shrink an economy and leave businesses with fewer customers. So why does it sound so appealing?

Because it gives the illusion that it will save jobs. After all, N.A.F.T.A. cost Americans many jobs which were shipped off to Mexico, right?

Not really. Yes, N.A.F.T.A. lowered tariffs which made it cheaper for corporations to hire labor abroad than at home. But the "giant sucking sound" predicted by H. Ross Perot during the 1992 presidential elections never took place after N.A.F.T.A. passed. The migration of jobs to Mexico was slow and gradual - even anemic. Why?

Because Mexico lacked certain things that would have made moving jobs to Mexico much easier. It lacked adequate roads to ship raw materials to manufacturing plants and then ship the finished product to market. It lacked adequate rails which could do the same. It lacked sufficient electrical grids, clean water, water towers and sewage systems that would make running any business possible, especially in Mexico's hot climate. It had an unstable political system, and rampant gangs of drug lords which constantly destabilized the regions, making the running of any business much more difficult. (That condition still exists, and is a major problem for Mexico.) And lastly, it lacked basic education-level workers to hire. At least at first.

And this is why India leapfrogged Mexico as the world's new economic power. It was much farther away, but it was willing to build the infrastructure necessary to attract the jobs. It invested in education for its citizens. It built ports, roads, and rail for its businesses. But we had no N.A.F.T.A. treaty with India. The jobs went to India because that country was better suited for business.

Which means N.A.F.T.A. is ruled out as a primary cause of American jobs going abroad.

You see, N.A.F.T.A. and T.P.P. do not really do much to encourage jobs going overseas, and tariffs don't do much to keep them at home, either. If there's some Pacific Rim nation (for example) with cheap labor going for $1 per day, which is a princely sum in that country, you could enact a tariff as high as 80% on that nation, and corporations will still save a ton of money by hiring there. Bark about the T.P.P. all you want, but it won't cost any jobs that weren't already on their way out the door.

So why aren't more jobs fleeing the U.S.?

Because it's not just simple cost of labor! If one country has a much lower cost of labor than another one, then jobs will naturally migrate to the country with lower labor costs, that much is true. But other factors weigh in. Ideal infrastructure is essential. Without adequate roads, bridges, rail, developed harbors and large airports, no nation can build very much, no matter how cheap the labor. Power and water are essential for building anything. You need the electricity to make the machines go, and the water to keep your workers hydrated and your cooling systems working. There are considerations regarding raw materials (steel, textiles, lumber, etc.). If the raw materials have to be shipped a long way, that adds to the cost. There's the presence of supporting industries to consider. If the industries that make items that you need are located too far away (computer chips, for example) then your cheap labor is going to get a lot more expensive. The size of a company's tax burden plays a role. Lower taxes abroad may cause a company to consider uprooting in the U.S. and moving to a country with little or even no taxes. Lax environmental regulations abroad may also make moving moving jobs overseas to another nation more appealing. There are language barriers to consider. Can your company overcome the difficulties in non-English speaking cultures to establish a usable workforce? There's climate and natural disasters to consider. If the foreign nation you are considering relocating jobs to has problems with hurricanes, or typhoons, or earthquakes, then you have a much bigger problem than just building adequate factories to consider. (This is part of why Mexico has enjoyed more prosperity than, say, Haiti.) And finally, there's location, location, location. If your cheap-labor island nation is situated far away from any other country, your shipping costs will be high enough to offset any money you might save by getting those cheap workers. Better to stay at home.

There's a lot to consider.

The real culprit when it comes to jobs going overseas is banking. The ability to send millions to any nation at the click of a mouse has made it possible for money to go into the paycheck of a foreign country much easier, and that means the payrolls can move more easily too. But we can't go back to the days of paper checking, so we're basically painted into a corner on that one. We need to do what we can with the technology we have to save jobs here in the U.S. and build new ones as well.

So how does one keep jobs at home? How does a nation build new jobs?

Some of the ideas I'll present are counter-intuitive, but there are a few things we can do. First, let's recognize that most of the nations in the TPP agreement already have low or no tariffs. Jobs that the U.S. may lose to those nations are already going to be gone. So by expanding our trade base by lowering tariffs even further will help jobs in the U.S. How? By expanding the customer base and lowering prices here. We lose some jobs overseas, but gain others back with business benefiting from lower prices on goods and more profitability overall.

Here's the big one: EDUCATION! In a world economy where jobs could go anywhere, the nation with the most skilled workforce wins. That means we have to give our labor the best skills possible, and that means educating them - NOW. We need the best mathematicians, engineers and scientists. Too often, these skills are imported into the U.S. from other nations, like Germany. Bad show! We need to invest in technical training so that those without the ambition or ability to obtain a four-year degree can at least obtain a good paying job. Right now, America is suffering from a lack of welders and CNC machinists. Talk about jobs going overseas! Manufacturing plants may have no other choice but to go to China if they can't find enough welders and machinists here at home! At the same time, we have lots of unemployed black youth in the inner cities who need jobs. We can kill two birds with one stone! Three, in fact! By investing in the training of black factory workers, we 1) keep jobs at home 2) provide jobs to those that need it most and 3) make even more jobs by building up average income among the inner-city's populations. We also lower crime and, by extension, police violence. It's a win-win-win-win-win!

So why aren't we doing that?

Economies change. Job skills which are needed shift with them. The only things which can allow a nation's workforce to pivot and meet the needs of tomorrow's job requirements is a strong social safety net and an effective education system for all. Without these, jobs go overseas to workers with better skills, usually because those nations, like India and China, were wise enough to invest in its citizens.

We must rebuild crumbling infrastructure! Better roads, bridges and rail will mean less money has to be spent by businesses for transportation of raw materials and finished goods. Better water systems can not only provide fresh water for industry, but farming as well. Better systems for capturing rain water can help industry in uncountable ways. This helps keep jobs here at home.

I mean, if you ran a business, would you really want to build a plant in Flint, Michigan? Where there's lead in the water?

And here's an idea: A transcontinental bullet-train network can move not only passengers but goods at lightning-speed across vast distances at a mere fraction of the fuel costs of a jet airplane. Isn't that worth the megamillion-dollar price tag? For millions of more jobs at home? Other nations have bullet trains. Why not us? Why is our rail system so - third world?

Here's another idea: Upgrade our nations's power grid. Imagine how many jobs we could both save and create if we didn't rely on any fossil fuels for our own energy needs. With all our power coming from solar, wind, hydroelectric power and nuclear sources, we would become the largest exporter of coal, natural gas, and petroleum in the world. Why should we cannibalize our nation's profits by feeding off the natural resources which are one of this nation's primary economic advantages? Yes, those other nations who buy from us would want to become environmentally friendly too, but for a good long while, America would be the world's power-cell!

And those petroleum resources are better spent on things like cheap plastics, chemicals, polymers and resins. Cheaper resources like that also keep jobs at home by lowering the cost of raw materials.

Here's something more controversial: Lower taxes on corporations. I know, it's against every Democratic Party principle, but lower taxes really does prevent a corporation from leaving. Take Puerto Rico, for example. It was once a tax haven, and brought millions in jobs and profitability to a U.S. territory. But when the tax loophole was removed, Puerto Rico began to suffer. Now, it's completely broke, and it doesn't look like that's going to end anytime soon. Yes, lower taxes can have a beneficial effect to an economy. And for all our bitching about corporate welfare, no politician can resist the temptation to provide a tax break to a large corporation which is considering building a new facility in his district. So the correct approach is to grant the corporations their tax breaks. Next time you hear a politician say, "So-and-so gave corporations tax breaks for moving jobs overseas," you might want to consider the possibility that we were trying to lure those jobs back to the U.S. Yes, there are corporations who were unduly rewarded for their job-killing practices, but there are also some corporations, like Masterlock, who were lured back to the U.S. from China, in part, because of those tax breaks.

But after granting the tax breaks, let's make sure the executives pay their fair share on their income taxes and capital gains, shall we?

Want an idea that flies in the face of Republican politics? Allow more immigration!

What?! More immigration?! Aren't immigrants taking our jobs enough already?

Yes, but look at what jobs they are taking. Generally low-skilled non-education-dependent jobs that we who are used to a different standard of living are unwilling to take.

Here's how it works: Say you live in an impoverished nation. You have two paths by which you can climb out of poverty. You can either educate yourself to become a high-paid job holder in your own country, or you can go to America and make nearly as much or even more working a menial job. For many, the second choice is more appealing. And it saves american jobs because every one of those workers is one less person who may become an engineer, accountant, doctor, lawyer, executive or scientist in a foreign country. Companies that move jobs overseas need such people, too. And they would love nothing more than to let an American engineer go in favor of (for example) one living in Mexico. Because a Mexican engineer makes about $36,000 MEX. That's the equivalent of only $2,016 USD! Naturally, we want fewer Mexican engineers and more American ones, and no Mexican is going to want to study engineering for six years when they could simply hop a wall and earn $15,080 USD (which is what a minimum wage earner gets here in the U.S.), which is the equivalent of nearly 27 million in Mexican Pesos!

Relaxing the border guard actually saves american jobs!

And if you build a wall, you force Mexicans to resort to college education as their one avenue out of poverty. Those people then become more highly-skilled laborers, which American corporations will take advantage of. They will fire the $60,000 per year professionals in the U.S. and hire the Mexican ones at five cents on the dollar. Is that really what we want?

Isn't it worth having a browner America tomorrow in exchange for job security today?

And here's where I should point out that the ratio of Mexicans crossing into the U.S. to Mexicans leaving to return back to Mexico is actually negative, meaning more Mexicans are going back to Mexico than are crossing over to live here in the U.S.!

Okay, anybody still blaming N.A.F.T.A. for job losses needs to have his racist head examined.

Here's something else we can do: Protect copyright on intellectual property. One of the biggest money-losers for the American economy is bootlegging. A poor country trying to build its economy can easily bring lots of money in the form of bootlegging movies, music and video games. Americans get cheap knockoffs that are just as good as the originals, and the poor country gets lots of new jobs. In the meantime, movie studios, recording companies and video game programmers get the shaft - or even fired - as a direct result, and the incomes associated with those industries cannot spend as much money on other American service industries, which also suffer. By protecting copyright laws, we bring more money into Hollywood, Silicon Valley, EMI and American Records. They, in turn, have more money for houses, restaurants, and other American goods.

What the T.P.P. does is protect intellectual property. If a poor nation wants to build its economy, it will have to do so by investing in roads, water and education rather than by stealing jobs from rich nations, and that's the way it should be.

Here's something we can do: prevent other nations from engaging in currency manipulation.

What is currency manipulation? Well, it works like this: Supply and demand work with everything else, even money. If a nation prints too much money, the value of each bill or note goes down. That's called inflation, and it usually happens naturally and slowly as a nation's economy grows, but if it does too much of it at once, the value of the currency goes way down and prices start to shoot way up. BUT, your jobs become cheaper for other nations to invest in, and you increase your exports because your prices are lower!

Some nations with nothing to lose will deliberately print too much money in order to bring in jobs and increase exports. I mean, if your citizens are starving anyway, why not? But this isn't playing fair in a free market, because a government is trying to tip the scales. Arguably, that's the same sort of thing a tariff tries to do, but enacting tariffs isn't playing fair, either.

The T.P.P. is trying to enact an anti-currency-manipulation clause into itself. So far, this hasn't been successful. But even if no currency manipulation clause is in the T.P.P., we still need it to stop the practice overall. Why? Because the biggest currency manipulator is China! If all the nations of the T.P.P. are banded together by treaty, and all call upon China to cease and desist its over-printing of the Yuen, China will eventually be forced to the negotiating table. That's a big job-protector right there!

You see, trade agreements like N.A.F.T.A. and T.P.P. can actually save jobs. Yes! Why? Because they can create trading blocs which China and India must reckon with. Two of the world's largest economies, the U.S.A. and Japan, are part of the T.P.P., and with the other nations of the Pacific Rim, can exert huge economic pressure everywhere along China's sea-front - it's only real economic interface. That's why the T.P.P. can help.

Here's yet another job-saver in the T.P.P.: It enacts restrictions upon child labor and eases restrictions upon unionization. For many years, unions have been weakened by jobs going overseas. But if other nations are allowed to unionize, the corporations have fewer and fewer outlets to run to in order to get around labor unions. Global unionizing leads to more money for everyone. Yes, unions can be stupid at times. At some junctures in history, unions have even been usurped by organized crime (such as the mafia). But unions also increase salaries and benefits in a way no other system can. An economy without labor unions is an economy doomed to eventual failure. Opponents to T.P.P. say that these rules will have no teeth. But even if not, it's a start, and teeth will eventually grow in - if not in T.P.P., then in subsequent deals because T.P.P. paved the way.

We can save jobs here in the U.S. by persuading other nations to enact stricter environmental standards. After all, having more lax environmental standards is one of the more appealing lures to corporations who want to relocate jobs overseas, right? The T.P.P. does require nations to enact tougher environmental regulations, particularly about the fishing industry. Our oceans must replenish in order to feed a growing human population!

Opponent of the T.P.P. complain that such environmental standards will not be enforced. Yet in almost the same breath, other opponents (or sometimes even the same ones) complain that a foreign corporation could sue the United States and win for enforcing an environmental regulation on U.S. soil that corporation does not want to have to deal with.

So, it has teeth with us, but not abroad? That's just not logical.

So, to recap, the T.P.P. is, overall, a jobs saver. Ultimately, so was N.A.F.T.A.

Let's be blunt for a moment. Did N.A.F.T.A. cost Americans some jobs? You bet it did! But it took many years for that to happen. Mexico did not have the infrastructure that America did, and so private companies had to invest in their own roads, bridges and power lines in order to build the factories that would be able to hire lower-waged workers. That meant that Mexicans who wanted to find work had to come to the United States. The giant sucking sound predicted by H. Ross Perot back in 1992 ended up happening north of the Mexican border, not south.

But the free trade agreement eventually paid off. Factories and roads were built, Mexicans began getting more jobs, wages began to increase, and now, decades after N.A.F.T.A. was first put into place, more Mexicans are returning to Mexico than are coming across the border into the U.S.

We don't need a wall anymore, thanks to N.A.F.T.A.! Donald Trump is preaching an outdated message to a very old choir.

And N.A.F.T.A. eventually paid off here at home as well. The manufacturing jobs here in the U.S. that we expected to be gone did not disappear entirely. Why? Because skilled laborers were still here in the U.S., but not in Mexico. Small components could be built south of the border, then brought north of the border to be welded and assembled by Americans. Companies like Master Lock came back to Milwaukee. Companies like Cooper Power Systems got bought up by Eaton, but never left Waukesha. General Electric was able to expand its manufacturing base and retain more American engineers.

All those jobs would be gone without N.A.F.T.A. Do they pay less now? Yes. But that's better than gone for good.

Here's an illustration to show how free trade works, and we'll just stick to N.A.F.T.A. since it offers the simplicity of using only two countries, the U.S.A. and Mexico.

As the illustration shows, Mexico benefits more from free trade than the U.S. does. And yes, some of that growth comes because some jobs migrate from the United States to Mexico. But both countries also see greater growth overall. Greater GDP in both countries is a net win, even if some jobs get lost in a move south of the border. And without such free trade, the size of the economy in the U.S.A. would remain the same, or even possibly shrink.

Economies shift and change. After World War II, America enjoyed unprecedented prosperity because it monopolized all the manufacturing. America was literally the world's machine shop, especially in cities like Milwaukee, Pittsburg and Detroit. A system of interstate highways instituted by the Eisenhower administration which were intended to allow cities to be quickly evacuated in the event of a war with the Soviets accidentally became an economic powerhouse for the nation, making commerce far easier and more interconnected. Prices dropped. Babies were born. Home sales went through the roof. But that was unsustainable. Competition eventually came from Germany and Japan. Lots of other nations learned the manufacturing trick.

Eventually, America had to share in its good fortune. And when other nations rise dramatically when your own nation rises only a little bit, it can often feel like you're falling.

But that's an illusion.

And now we're facing T.P.P., the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Will we have a similar fate as that with N.A.F.T.A., with only a little growth for ourselves and Japan but a lot of growth for other nations?

Yes, indeed! And we want this! We want more depressed nations to develop and climb up here to our level to enjoy a better life!

Economists love to disagree about things. But what they all seem to agree on is that if you build cars or airplanes for a living, TPP might not be so good in the short run. But if you do any other sort of business, things will get better. U.S. G.D.P. will go up, but only a little bit. Meanwhile, smaller nations will do much better and receive much higher wages over time. Eventually, that comes back to benefit us.

Here's a list of economists that agree and disagree with the TPP deal. And interestingly, many opposed are superstars in economics from the Left, but many more are in favor and come from both sides of the aisle:

Joseph Stiglitz – TPP is the “worst trade deal ever.”
Paul Krugman – “I’ve described myself as a lukewarm opponent.”
Ha Joon Chang – Argues that TPP would prevent third-world countries from developing by forbidding trade protections. (Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam)
Robert Reich – “It’s a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom.”
Jeffrey Sachs – Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

In favor:
Charles L. Schultze – Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers during the President Carter Administration
Martin Feldstein – Professor of Economics, Harvard. President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Michael J. Boskin – Professor of Economics, Stanford University. Chief Executive Officer and President of Boskin & Co., an economic consulting company
Laura D’Andrea Tyson – Former Chair of the US President's Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration.
Martin Neil Baily –  Economist at the Brookings Institution and formerly at the Peterson Institute. Cabinet member on Council of Economic Advisers under Clinton from 1994 to 1996, and chairman of the Council from 1999 to 2001. Currently co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center's Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative.
R. Glenn Hubbard –  Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary, 1991 to 1993. Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors to George W. Bush, 2001 to 2003.
N. Gregory Mankiw – Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. Former economics advisor to Mitt Romney. “Among economists, the issue is a no-brainer.” (Arguing yes, he’s in favor of TPP.)
Harvey S. Rosen – Professor of Economics and Business Policy, Princeton University. Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers, 2005.
Alan Greenspan – Former Federal Reserve Chairman.
Ben S. Bernanke – Former Federal Reserve Chairman.
Edward P. Lazear – Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors from 2006 to 2009.
Christina D. Romer – Chaired President's Council of Economic Advisers, 2009-2013 in succession.
Austan D. Goolsbee – Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, 2010 – 2011.
Alan B. Krueger – Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton. University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for economic policy, 2009 – 2010. Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, 2011.

Paul Krugman describes himself as a "lukewarm opponent" of TPP. I, by contrast am a "lukewarm advocate." But I'm not quite the economist he is. The consensus, politics aside, is that TPP has its problems, but is generally a positive thing. Ultimately, I trust Barack Obama's judgment on this, although I reserve the right to change my mind.

And if Trump wants to campaign against it, calling it a bad deal, just know that the consensus among economists disagrees with him, and so do I.

So what if Hillary flip-flops on it after the election?



Friday, July 8, 2016

Dallas Shooters - The NRA's Heroes

Well, we call this the Sacred Cow Wursthaus for a reason, and that reason will be apparent in this blog post.

One of the primary reasons the NRA is so adamant about protecting 2nd Amendment gun rights is so that citizens can protect themselves against government oppression. Often quoted is this bit from Thomas Jefferson:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

And again, just as frequently, is this quote attributed to George Washington:

"A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."

Except that's not actually what Washington said. Snopes exposed that particular lie. Read about it here. But it is certainly true that this is one of the founding fathers' arguments. There are plenty of other legitimate quotes that prove this. And so, it has become one of the NRA's central themes; that people need to be armed in order to prevent the government from oppressing them.

Well, that's what the NRA argues. And guess what? Some black men got some sniper rifles and acted on exactly that principle last night.

Angered that black men are continually shot and killed by white cops, some black men actively declared a race war and shot at white police officers last night. 12 officers were shot. 5 officers were killed. And those numbers may shift as news reports continue to come in. It is, CNN reports, the deadliest day for police officers since 9/11. And the irony that this took place near the JFK Memorial Plaza is lost on no one.

I'm willing to bet this is not what the NRA had in mind.

And yet who can argue with the fact that the government is oppressing black people, especially young black men? These snipers did exactly what the NRA, and the founding fathers, told them they should do.

Maybe we should re-think this entire 2nd amendment thing.

Let's be honest with ourselves: When the NRA argues that gun ownership is necessary to protect their rights from being infringed upon by the government, what they really mean is the protection of white rights. Black men with legitimate concealed carry permits are not really factored in by most NRA members. And such racism goes beyond wanting to prevent someone named Achmed from getting a weapon. The biggest gun restrictions against assault rifles came when the government saw the Black Panthers arming themselves with such weapons.

And what do white NRA members do with their weapons when gerrymandering robs their votes by the billions? What do they do when Bush's Patriot Act robs their right to privacy and allows the government to wire-tap them at will? What do they do when they get stuck with Donald Trump when 60% of them voted for someone else in the primary? What do they do when their fellow Americans are shut out of the democratic process by the restricting of polling stations and requiring ID's while obtain such ID cards becomes deliberately more difficult?

They sit on their goddamned asses!

Look, I'm not defending what these snipers have done. It was evil, and we all see that. But at least they practiced what the NRA preaches!

What, in Zeus' name, is the excuse of the white privileged NRA crowd?

Let me come back down to earth, here. I believe in defensive weapons. It's a real debate what constitutes 'defensive' vs. 'offensive,' but we have that right. So I'm not going to outright say what I am tempted to say, which is that assault rifle owners who are not willing to march on their state and federal capitals with gun in hand when something like the Patriot Act passes, or gerrymandering robs people's votes, should simply hand their guns back now, because they don't deserve them. But I AM going to say that if the whole point of gun ownership is to protect innocent people from oppression, can't we at least do that much?

I mean, what did these guys think they were doing, shooting a bunch of innocent cops as if that would solve anything? If they were so willing to do a coordinated attack for vigilante justice, couldn't they have gone to Baton Rouge and shot the officers in question there? Or gone to Minnesota and targeted that guy? I'm not saying that's right either, but if you're going to break the law to do vigilante justice, at least do it right! Don't drag more innocent lives down with you!

Who did you think you were, Charles Manson trying to ignite Helter Skelter?

Maybe the famous science fiction author, Robert Heinlein, summed up the opinion best:

"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

Well, Bob, in a perfect world, that would be the case. But this isn't a perfect world. And maybe the reason we should outlaw certain guns is because society is just too damned immature to be polite about them. And all the politeness in the world won't keep you from getting shot if the other guy is trigger-happy, or just plain crazy.

Let's re-think the 2nd Amendment. Legalize defensive weapons only. Technology has changed the entire warfare landscape. It's time we changed with it.

How much do you want to bet someone is going to suggest the outlawing of sniper rifles?



I Called It! James Comey Lets Clinton Off Hook

I have some thoughts and analysis regarding FBI Director James Comey letting Hillary Clinton go with little more than a harsh scolding as punishment. People have been saying that Comey changed the rules in order to get Clinton off the hook. They're saying that he used a different standard of justice than he would have used on anybody else. Some are even saying that this conservative Republican is somehow in league with Hillary. Boy, do I have a scathing rebuke of that nonsense! But first, I have to take a bow for predicting the outcome correctly, and being the master analyst that only a few fortunate souls who read my blog know myself to be. Fuck modesty, this one's mine! Check this out:

In the end, the official FBI conclusion will likely be that Hillary did not divulge State secrets, but will also give her a severe reprimand. The State department has already effectively done this. She deserves it, and she knows it, which is why she’s issued her apology for it, and not just because she was caught. It stings her, and well it should.

But against Trump, it shouldn’t cost her any votes.

The FBI will most likely exonerate her as well, unless there really was something she leaked which was clearly and unambiguously classified. That's a whole separate issue, but for now, the FBI will say she did not commit any serious breeches of information. I suspect, however, that the FBI will also seriously chastise her. That would be a blow, but if the FBI clears her, she'll gladly endure it.

Emails? Yeah, not so much, either. Unless an off-account email is found which is a clear breach of national security, I don't see much of a problem. 

Over a year in advance, and I got it exactly right! Who is the master of prediction? THIS guy! Who has clarity of perspective on political issues? ME!

And who should you listen to next time? Yep. That's right.

Okay, so now that I'm the undisputed guru, here's my take on Comey. The best breakdown of what accusers are saying regarding Comey's announcement comes to me from my Bernie-supporting friends on the Left who have been posting an article from National Review.

Let me say that again. My friends on the Left, posting from National Review. National fucking Review!

Yeah, it's gotten that crazy.

You can read the article for yourself here. But the gist of it is this, that the FBI redefined the law in order to allow Hillary to get off scot-free. At the heart of the matter is Title 18, Section 793(f) of the penal code. In fact, in one of my Facebook defenses of Hillary, someone actually pasted that statute into his reply, as if he'd somehow made a point. But for the sake of being thorough, and because I want to be as open as possible, here is the statute itself:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

One can then juxtapose this with the statement delivered by James Comey on July 5th. Now, you can read the whole thing here, but I'll just drop the summary here that's been re-played all over the news media over the last two days:

"Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past."

Now, critics point out, "intent?" Since when? Intent is not in that section of the law!

No, but he listed first "strength of evidence." Intent was secondary.

For the anti-Hillary crowd, whether they be Republicans of Bernie die-hards, the answer is clear. She broke the law. But did she? Let's break this down.

A person is in violation of the law if such a person:
1) Through gross negligence permits classified data to be removed/delivered:
  • from proper place of custody
  • to anyone in violation of trust
  • to be lost, stolen, abstracted or destroyed
2) Having knowledge of #1 above, fails to make prompt report to the superior officer (in this case, the president).

Let's start with the first one. Through "gross negligence." (For Hillary-haters, all her negligence is gross negligence, no matter what. But let's try not to look through rose-colored lenses and see what the real level of negligence was.) Was there "gross negligence" in this case?

James Comey says no. His exact words:

"Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information."

And cue the critics again. "Extremely careless = gross negligence!" 

Clearly, since Comey did not recommend bringing any charges, he disagrees. Is this splitting hairs? Certainly. But maybe not so much. What Comey is saying is that it is negligence, just not gross negligence. Even Hillary called it a mistake. But ultimately, the information stayed within the inner circle of the government. What leaked? Nothing. Again quoting Comey:

"Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information..."

Potential violations. Any actual violations? Nope. None found. And Comey is a smart enough legal mind to know that sort of thing is not enough to bring about a successful prosecution. Does that mean Hillary is innocent? No. But it does mean there isn't enough evidence to go to trial.

"...our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

In other words, to quote the old maxim, "No harm, no foul." Or, in this case, no proven harm, so no provable foul.

So much for that. Next bullet-point item:

"From proper place of custody," is the next requirement. A separate email server was not illegal at the time Hillary set one up. But it was against State department guidelines and regulations. So, that means, as I've said on multiple occasions, that she broke rules, but not laws. Her e-mail server was, at the time, a proper place of custody.

"But that placed government information at higher risk!" a critic might say. "What about that hacker, Guccifer, who allegedly broke in?!"

Guccifer was what hackers call a "muggle." That is, a hacker who isn't really much of a hacker, and brags about stuff he didn't do. James Comey said in his July 5th press conference:

"With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked."

Later, in his deposition to Congress on July 7, Comey was directly asked by Texas Republican Blake Farenthold whether Guccifer successfully hacked into Hillary's email server.

"No, he did not," Comey testified. "He admitted that was a lie." (The FBI had interviewed 'Guccifer' during its investigations.)

"At least that's good to hear," Farenthold replied.

Bullshit. News that Guccifer had actually hacked Hillary's server would have been the best news Republicans have had since Obama won.

By the way, you may have heard a rumor that Guccifer was found dead in his jail cell. Not true. You can read about that, here.

Yes, having a private server puts the information at greater risk than using the government's server. (Remember that every time some conservative hack wants you to believe that all government-run systems are inferior.) But while it's harder for a hacker to break into a government computer system than a private server, they are both pretty tough to crack. It's analogous to locking secured documents in a locked file cabinet instead of a safe. Is the safe harder to crack open than a file cabinet? Sure! But the documents were still locked away. They were not just free for the taking!

"To anyone in violation of trust," is the next bulleted item. Did Hillary send classified documents to any unauthorized personnel? Here the answer is clear - she did not. And this is why her wrongdoing is not nearly as egregious as that of General David Portrayus, who knowingly placed classified documents into the hands of his mistress, a non-government employed journalist. Hillary's messages may have been received at, and then sent from, a private server, but they went from authorized personnel to authorized personnel.

At his testimony before Congress on July 7, Comey did, however testify that Hillary had given access to her classified emails to non-authorized personnel in the form of her lawyers. But due to attorney-client privilege, that is impossible to prosecute. Her lawyers are legally bound not to share confidential information pertaining to their client, and so the information is still secure.

"To be lost, stolen, abstracted or destroyed," is the last bulleted point. And here, Comey has something interesting to say:

"I should add...that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them."

He went on to describe how some emails were deleted and found outside of the 30,000 emails she had handed over to the FBI, but then described how exactly that came about, and demonstrated that such stray emails were not proof of intentional destruction of classified material. It's an interesting read, and I encourage all to read Comey's transcript rather than merely watching the highlights from the 6:00 news.

One further point bears attention. Comey pointed out that Hillary's claim that no documents marked as classified were received from, or sent to, her private server. That claim turned out to be wrong.

"From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification."

And yes, they were marked as such. But not clearly. More on that, below.

So did Hillary lie? Perhaps. But it's equally plausible that she just made a mistake. Not all classified documents are marked as classified, as James Comey himself said. And while he also said that government officials should know what is classified whether it is marked or not, it bears consideration just how many emails are dealt with on a daily basis. Think of the emails you have in your place of work alone. Never mind spam, mailing lists and numerous clutter items. Now imagine what a Secretary of State has to deal with.

It's a wonder classified information is kept bottled up at all, private servers or not!

So that's it for the bullet points. The second part of the statute doesn't apply, because Hillary would have to have been knowingly putting classified documents in unauthorized hands in order for her reporting to her superior officer (Barack Obama, in this case) to be necessary.

James Comey pointed all this out in his July 7 testimony before Congress. In fact, much of what I argue here is what he argued there. So, in a way, I am simply re-stating what he did, only better. (Yeah, this is me being not-so-humble again.) No transcript of his testimony yet exists, but there is a YouTube video of nearly the entire testimony. You can watch it here. One of the things he points out is that some information marked as classified was done so in an ambiguous way. For example, items marked with a simple capital letter "C" were classified, but Hillary might not have known about that.

Yes, he's saying the Secretary of State, of all people, might not have known that particular detail. 
Is Comey calling Hillary stupid? Maybe. 
Is he admitting under oath that some classified materials might not be clearly and unambiguously marked as such? Yes!

*Shudder!* That, my friends, may be the most frightening revelation of this entire affair! That classified material may be floating around, unmarked?! Shit!

So, just to recap:
  • Was Hillary careless? Yep
  • Was she "grossly negligent?" No. Just negligent.
  • Did she make classified documents less secure than they should have been? Yes.
  • Does that constitute an actual breech of classified information? No.
  • Did she destroy classified documents? It appears not.
  • Was her server hacked? Not by Guccifer. But by someone else? Unlikely, but can't rule it out.
  • Does she deserve to be raked across the goads for all this? Absolutely. And she both is and will be.
  • Was she held to a different, lower standard than others because of her position? No. Hell, no! In fact, she is held to a higher standard because of her position, and will continually be punished for it. Rightly so. Even now, Republicans are threatening impeachment proceedings after she's elected (which even they can see is inevitable). That may make Elizabeth Warren our president, however. (Goody!)
  • Does she deserve a prosecution? No.
  • Did she lie? Maybe. But good luck proving it!
  • Did she ultimately break any laws? Close, but no fucking cigar.
So, in short, I was right then, and I daresay I am right now. Hillary made one, little brain-fart because she wanted the convenience (and control, I expect) of having her own private server. She had precedent from Secretaries of State before, and so she felt entitled. But for this one, little misstep, which in retrospect seems so bad, but at the time seemed so innocent, she has been punished, and punished, and punished. Eventually, we'll have to realize that she's been through the meat-grinder enough times to be seasoned and cured.

Why not now, I ask? When it should all be over and Bernie is poised to endorse her?

Even if she's guilty as sin, I argue that she's learned her lesson many, many, many times over. So there.

Repeatedly, I find that when Hillary gets off regarding some charge or other, the reaction is to assume that whomever got her off the hook is to blame, rather than to consider the possibility that maybe Hillary is not as guilty as assumed.
  • Hillary beats the Select Committee on Benghazi - the Republican controlled committee must be on Hillary's take.
  • Hillary gets endorsed by Elizabeth Warren - obviously Warren is a traitor.
  • Hillary gets off the hook with the email scandal from the Director of the FBI - the conservative Republican must be working with Hillary.
  • Eric Hildeman defends Hillary on his blog - oh, then he must be a puppet.

In other words, where Hillary is involved, it's guilty until proven innocent, and still guilty even after that!

Maybe, just maybe, the problem is people having the default setting that Hillary is bad? Maybe?

When Obama came under continuous attack, I gave him a nickname: Our Trophy President. Today, it's time I gave Hillary a nickname. And I've sometimes called her "'Ol' Ironsides," but I'd rather give her a nickname that reflects her more cosmopolitan, non-Dixie side.

Today, I label Hillary as "Lady Titanium." She's indestructible!